Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

SYM-phony No. 3

Try to say “symphony” with a straight face

When Jenny asked me what I was doing later, I hesitated to answer. I knew there was no casual, comfortable way for me to say it, and this sister of mine has the quickest wit in the West. It’s one of the many things I admire about her. My only way out of this was to make fun of myself before handing over the baton. “I’m going to the symphony,” I said, but not the way a normal person might say it. The word “symphony” came out with mock upper-crustiness — nasally, with an emphasis on the first syllable. I paused dramatically before the word, so it was more like, “I’m going to the...SYM-phony.”

As expected, Jenny laughed. “Yeah, there’s no way to say, ‘I’m going to the symphony,’ without sounding pretentious,” she said.

I could count on two fingers how many times I’d been to the symphony before. The first was back in 1998, during the two years I lived in Los Angeles. A coworker took me to see the L.A. Philharmonic. We had great seats, right in front, but what I remember most was the sound of the music and how it enveloped me. Despite my positive experience, when it came to deciding what to do on any given Saturday night, I continued to opt for DJs over conductors. My second symphony was a decade later, when I surprised David for his birthday by taking him to the Boston Pops. A Boston transplant and once an audio engineer, David waxed poetic about the legendary acoustics of Boston Symphony Hall. The acoustics were impressive, for sure, but this was in December, so it was basically a lot of familiar Christmas music.

Now, seven years later, I was heading to the San Diego Symphony, thanks to my friend Kimberly, who’d arranged the double date when she learned of David’s fondness of classical music.

“I can’t say ‘symphony’ with a straight face,” I said as David stood behind me to fasten my necklace. “I feel like I need to say it in a royal British accent and add a disclaimer. Otherwise it feels like...I don’t know, like I’m playing dress-up, but really sucking at it. Why does the symphony sound pretentious?”

“Well, people who go to the symphony tend to be more affluent, and they tend to be older, which means they probably have more old-school values, which could be perceived as being stuffier. And they’re listening to antique music — most pieces performed were composed over 100 years ago. So I could see why younger people might think it’s just something old rich people do, and how they then might stereotype and think anyone who goes to the symphony is a snob. It’s a lot like wine. If you don’t know anything about it you might be afraid of looking stupid, so a natural protective mechanism would be to mock it instead.”

Inside the lobby at symphony hall was an ocean of blue hair. David pointed out a young girl of about 14 and joked, “There, it’s settled. You’re not the youngest one here.”

I was surprised, but relieved, to see that Snake Oil Cocktail Company was running the bar. I expected expensive-but-no-frills options, like vodka and tonic, not craft cocktails with bits of fresh fruit in them. The theater was packed. Who knew this many people went to the symphony? Sitting right in front of me was the little girl from the lobby, and her escort, an elderly gent in a suit who was around 80.

The lights dimmed and the orchestra began to play. The music was much softer than I remembered from my past experiences. If it were a stereo, I would have turned it up. I wondered if it was quieter in the back, where we were seated, or if I’m just hard of hearing. (David used to tell me that every time my ears rang after a concert, it meant I’d suffered permanent hearing loss.) Eventually, either the music grew louder or maybe I adjusted to the volume, and I began to relax.

I didn’t know what to do with my eyes. The conductor waved his arms around, but the musicians were seated, all calm and collected as they played those notes penned by a guy who died before light bulbs were a thing. I closed my eyes for a moment, but soon enough, my lids popped open and I was watching the crowd. Particularly, the two in front of me.

The little girl appeared as though she’d fallen asleep. The elderly gent — her mentor, who clearly wished to broaden this girl’s horizons by exposing her to the greats — looked distressed. He kept glancing down at her, an eager look in his eyes. He nudged her leg, then her arm. But this is the best part, I could hear him thinking, as each time he nudged, her lashes briefly parted and then fluttered back together again. Maybe she was tired. Maybe she was bored. Her small hand clutched a giant smartphone whose screen remained dark for the duration of the evening.

Video:

Arthur Rubinstein - Chopin Nocturne Op. 72, No. 1 in E minor

I related to that girl. I wanted to leave or check my phone or sleep. But later, after arriving home, I looked for my favorite Chopin piece. I loved it so much I learned to play it myself, on the electronic keyboard I haven’t touched in six years. It’s a dark, moody melody in a minor key. It made me think of raindrops on the window, and brows that furrow in preparation for tears that never come. It was yearning, it was hope; it was acceptance. I realized that the only reason the symphony hadn’t resonated with me is because I didn’t care for musical selections. If the orchestra had been playing Chopin, I would have been as eager as that old man to share the rapture with loved ones.

When David said he’d found a program he thought I’d like, scheduled for the end of the month, and asked me if I wanted to go, I did not hesitate. “Yes,” I said, “I’d love to return to the SYM-phony with you.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Voice vs. ethnicity in picking the opera stars

Past singers were a mixed bag when it came to having “good looks”
Next Article

Communion on the hood of a Humvee

The Apostle Paul says we see through a glass dimly

When Jenny asked me what I was doing later, I hesitated to answer. I knew there was no casual, comfortable way for me to say it, and this sister of mine has the quickest wit in the West. It’s one of the many things I admire about her. My only way out of this was to make fun of myself before handing over the baton. “I’m going to the symphony,” I said, but not the way a normal person might say it. The word “symphony” came out with mock upper-crustiness — nasally, with an emphasis on the first syllable. I paused dramatically before the word, so it was more like, “I’m going to the...SYM-phony.”

As expected, Jenny laughed. “Yeah, there’s no way to say, ‘I’m going to the symphony,’ without sounding pretentious,” she said.

I could count on two fingers how many times I’d been to the symphony before. The first was back in 1998, during the two years I lived in Los Angeles. A coworker took me to see the L.A. Philharmonic. We had great seats, right in front, but what I remember most was the sound of the music and how it enveloped me. Despite my positive experience, when it came to deciding what to do on any given Saturday night, I continued to opt for DJs over conductors. My second symphony was a decade later, when I surprised David for his birthday by taking him to the Boston Pops. A Boston transplant and once an audio engineer, David waxed poetic about the legendary acoustics of Boston Symphony Hall. The acoustics were impressive, for sure, but this was in December, so it was basically a lot of familiar Christmas music.

Now, seven years later, I was heading to the San Diego Symphony, thanks to my friend Kimberly, who’d arranged the double date when she learned of David’s fondness of classical music.

“I can’t say ‘symphony’ with a straight face,” I said as David stood behind me to fasten my necklace. “I feel like I need to say it in a royal British accent and add a disclaimer. Otherwise it feels like...I don’t know, like I’m playing dress-up, but really sucking at it. Why does the symphony sound pretentious?”

“Well, people who go to the symphony tend to be more affluent, and they tend to be older, which means they probably have more old-school values, which could be perceived as being stuffier. And they’re listening to antique music — most pieces performed were composed over 100 years ago. So I could see why younger people might think it’s just something old rich people do, and how they then might stereotype and think anyone who goes to the symphony is a snob. It’s a lot like wine. If you don’t know anything about it you might be afraid of looking stupid, so a natural protective mechanism would be to mock it instead.”

Inside the lobby at symphony hall was an ocean of blue hair. David pointed out a young girl of about 14 and joked, “There, it’s settled. You’re not the youngest one here.”

I was surprised, but relieved, to see that Snake Oil Cocktail Company was running the bar. I expected expensive-but-no-frills options, like vodka and tonic, not craft cocktails with bits of fresh fruit in them. The theater was packed. Who knew this many people went to the symphony? Sitting right in front of me was the little girl from the lobby, and her escort, an elderly gent in a suit who was around 80.

The lights dimmed and the orchestra began to play. The music was much softer than I remembered from my past experiences. If it were a stereo, I would have turned it up. I wondered if it was quieter in the back, where we were seated, or if I’m just hard of hearing. (David used to tell me that every time my ears rang after a concert, it meant I’d suffered permanent hearing loss.) Eventually, either the music grew louder or maybe I adjusted to the volume, and I began to relax.

I didn’t know what to do with my eyes. The conductor waved his arms around, but the musicians were seated, all calm and collected as they played those notes penned by a guy who died before light bulbs were a thing. I closed my eyes for a moment, but soon enough, my lids popped open and I was watching the crowd. Particularly, the two in front of me.

The little girl appeared as though she’d fallen asleep. The elderly gent — her mentor, who clearly wished to broaden this girl’s horizons by exposing her to the greats — looked distressed. He kept glancing down at her, an eager look in his eyes. He nudged her leg, then her arm. But this is the best part, I could hear him thinking, as each time he nudged, her lashes briefly parted and then fluttered back together again. Maybe she was tired. Maybe she was bored. Her small hand clutched a giant smartphone whose screen remained dark for the duration of the evening.

Video:

Arthur Rubinstein - Chopin Nocturne Op. 72, No. 1 in E minor

I related to that girl. I wanted to leave or check my phone or sleep. But later, after arriving home, I looked for my favorite Chopin piece. I loved it so much I learned to play it myself, on the electronic keyboard I haven’t touched in six years. It’s a dark, moody melody in a minor key. It made me think of raindrops on the window, and brows that furrow in preparation for tears that never come. It was yearning, it was hope; it was acceptance. I realized that the only reason the symphony hadn’t resonated with me is because I didn’t care for musical selections. If the orchestra had been playing Chopin, I would have been as eager as that old man to share the rapture with loved ones.

When David said he’d found a program he thought I’d like, scheduled for the end of the month, and asked me if I wanted to go, I did not hesitate. “Yes,” I said, “I’d love to return to the SYM-phony with you.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

First Cow: mooving picture

Carve out a culinary slice of the American dream
Next Article

Communion on the hood of a Humvee

The Apostle Paul says we see through a glass dimly
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close